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From the ballad-seller to the Highland bard, from 'pot-house politics' to the language of low and rustic life, the writers and artists of the British Romantic period drew eclectic inspiration from the realm of plebeian experience, even as they helped to constitute the field of popular culture as a new object of polite consumption. Representing the work of leading scholars from both Britain and North America, Romanticism and Popular Culture in Britain and Ireland offers a series of fascinating insights into changing representations of 'the people', while demonstrating at the same time a unifying commitment to rethinking some of the fundamental categories that have shaped our view of the Romantic period. Addressing a series of key themes, including the ballad revival, popular politics, urbanization, and literary canon-formation, the 2009 volume also contains a substantial introductory essay, which provides a wide-ranging theoretical and historical overview of the subject.
Part I. Introduction: 1. What is the people? Philip Connell and Nigel Leask; Part II. Ballad Poetry and Popular Song: 2. 'A degrading species of Alchymy': ballad poetics, oral tradition and the meanings of popular culture Nigel Leask; 3. Refiguring the popular in Charlotte Brooke's Reliques of Irish Poetry Leith Davis; 4. 'An individual flowering on a common stem': melody, performance and national song Kirsteen McCue; Part III. Politics and the People: 5. Rus in Urbe John Barrell; 6. The 'sinking down' of Jacobinism and the rise of the counter-revolutionary man of letters Kevin Gilmartin; 7. Shelley's Mask of Anarchy and the visual iconography of female distress Ian Haywood; Part IV. The Urban Experience: 8. Popularizing the public: Robert Chambers and the rewriting of the antiquarian city Ina Ferris; 9. Keats, popular culture and the sociability of theatre Gillian Russell; 10. A world within walls: Haydon, The Mock Election and debtors' prisons Greg Dart; Part V. Canon-Formation and the Common Reader: 11. Every-day poetry: William Hone, popular antiquarianism, and the literary anthology Mina Gorji; 12. How to popularize Wordsworth Philip Connell.